Podcast: Download (Duration: 49:30 — 56.9MB)
Today I’m really happy to have Amanda Wittenborn on the show. Not only is Amanda a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course but she was also a finalist in the 5 Minute Pitch, my Shark Tank like show, where she competed to win $50,000.
Amanda started AmandaCreation.com where she makes over 90K/month(updated) selling children’s party supplies online. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of entrepreneurship and how Amanda got started with her business.
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What You’ll Learn
- What were Amanda’s motivations for starting her business
- How Amanda validated her niche before she began
- Where Amanda produces her products
- How she found her suppliers
- How Amanda has grown and scaled her business
Other Resources And Books
Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
But before we begin I want to thank klaviyo for sponsoring the show whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth that moving to a new marking problem can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now, you can check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife.
I also want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s also sponsored the show. previous a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do, well Privy’s an email list growth platform and they manage all my email capture forms and I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that are managing email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. Now on to the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast we will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m really happy to have Amanda Wittenborn on the show, now not only is Amanda a student in my creative profitable online store course, but she was also a finalist in the five minute pitch. My Shark Tank like show where she competed to win $50,000 in cash. Now Amanda started amandacreation.com where she makes six figures selling children’s party supplies online possibly seven figures by the end of the year. She’s been to my annual conference the seller summit multiple times now where I’ve gotten to know her and her husband very well. Anyway, I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking forward to this interview. Now that the finalists for the five-minute pitched have been announced and we are going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of Entrepreneurship and how Amanda got started with her business and with that welcome to show Amanda. How are you doing today?
Amanda: Thanks Steve. I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on the podcast too.
Steve: So Amanda, I just saw you literally like a week ago, but please tell the audience about your business. What you sell and how you got started.
Amanda: Sure. So I design creative and unique birthday party invitations and decorations and supplies that match those invitations and I got started out of my love of throwing themed parties. So I have three sons oldest is 13. I have a nine-year-old and I have a four-year-old and back 13 years ago believe It or not Pinterest did not exist. And so I know right nobody remembers like pre Pinterest parties, but I was throwing those Pinterest worthy parties 13 years ago. I like to go back to the very first birthday party I threw for my son when he turned one and it was this incredible monkey themed party and I handmade every single invitation with stamps and scrapbook paper and all sorts of stuff and I convinced my husband who he’s so willing to do anything, but he created eight foot tall balloon palm tree sculptures for the star.
Steve: Oh my God.
Amanda: So it’s just been a love of mine for a long time. And I think you know what happened is, you know, you have the one kid and you can hand make everything but then you have two and things get time gets a little tight. And so kind of out of just a wanting to still throw the theme parties but do it a little quicker, you know, I started designing things online so that they could be printed, you know multiples could be printed. So I wasn’t me hand making 30 invitations for and so it kind of just grew from there and I was creating all sorts of decorations like water bottle wrappers and candy bar wrappers and Banners and posters and all these things to kind of tie the theme in together. And of course then friends are coming to the party and they’re going wow, where’d you get this really cute stuff and you know, they found out I made it and then next thing, you know, I’m recruited to make all their party supplies.
Amanda: And so I did, you know, because I love it and you know one friend was like you should really try to sell this. And I had tried and I didn’t have a lot of success selling and I was like, I don’t know nobody’s ever gonna buy this stuff and then I opened up an Etsy store and sure enough people were buying it and so back then everything that I made was like a digital download so it could be purchased by the customer and downloaded and they could print it out on their own home printer and doubt and kind of assemble it. And just as business grew and as things kind of changed and I then you know had another baby, you know, I started to you know hone in on who my ideal client was and who I was really helping and you know a crafty mom there are tons of those out there but there are way more busy moms.
There are way more working moms who want to be crafty, but don’t necessarily have the time for it but still kind of want to have that that handmade crafted look and so that is kind of what spurred me to do more of a printed and finished product and you know, the ultimate goal being able to deliver those products right to her door and all she’s got to do is open them up and everything’s ready to go. So there’s no downloads. There’s no printing there’s no cutting or taping, you know, everything is just ready to go.
Steve: So back when things weren’t working what platform were using light before you found out Etsy?
Amanda: I had my own website at that point. I actually started with a digital scrapbooking store. So actually designing digital scrapbooking kits and the shopping cart that was kind of widely used in that industry was a Zen cart.
Steve: Oh, yes.
Amanda: Yeah free open card. So I had learned how to use Zen cart.
Steve: Okay, and then you moved over to Etsy and then you got that’s where you kind of validated that people wanted to buy your products.
Amanda: Yes. That was for sure validation.
Steve: And then I’m sure you found Etsy limiting at some point. And so how did it evolve after that?
Amanda: Well, actually I mentioned this to you at lunch. I actually got banned on Etsy about five years ago.
Steve: Okay. Do you want to tell the backstory behind?
Amanda: Yeah, I could talk talking about that because I think it’s you know, it’s kind of an important part of my story overall in that I had asked the Minecraft company for permission to design my own Minecraft themed birthday party supplies and I had gotten permission from them and their only request was that I didn’t use any of their copyrighted images or terms so I couldn’t call anything Minecraft. I couldn’t you know say creeper or Steve or whatever, you know Steve’s like the main character and so I created my own things and it was about two weeks after I had my third son that I got flagged for my Minecraft party supplies and being home with the newborn and exhausted and knowing that I had permission I just was like, okay, I’ll take care of this later. Well a couple more days went by and Flagged again and that was enough so that Etsy shut the story down. So then even though I contacted the Minecraft company and Etsy and cleared it all up that’s Etsy refuse to open my store back up and that was that for their..
Steve: So basically you lost all the revenue from Etsy pretty much overnight, right?
Amanda: Pretty much overnight. Yes. I had lost what I had built. It was about two and a half years building up products and sales and finally getting to a point in my business where I was actually making money.
Amanda: It was gone overnight. Yeah.
Steve: So let’s just make that a lesson to the readers that you shouldn’t depend on a single platform for your revenue.
Amanda: For sure, which is you know, part of the part of the lesson here right?
Steve: Why I didn’t give up their right. So yeah, where did you go after that?
Amanda: So after that happened obviously that was quite devastating and you know, I think I cried for a couple of weeks there with that and I kind of just poured myself back into digital Scrapbooking for a little bit and then another party supply company that I followed was looking for a designer and I applied for that position and I was hired and so I started designing the party supplies again for them. And that kind of sparked me again. I thought for sure I would never do it again. And that was kind of like the little bit of a push like no you really do love this and it was kind of this, you know, she can make this work I can make this work. And so I really just started trying again and I thought man, and I could get my own website working. There’s got to be a way to drive traffic. There has to be a way to make this work if I can just get these things in front of the right amount of people. I know it’ll be a success. And for another probably year and a half to two years like things just got worse.
Steve: Things just got worse?
Amanda: Thing got worse. Yeah. Yeah. I was trying to I was trying everything and nothing was working and you know, I ended up hiring a business coach at some point in there and working with her and she actually had got me started on doing a custom graphic design service for business owners and stuff and yet there was still this like nagging you the party stuff. It’s just that was what my passion really was and I was like, there’s got to be a way to make it work and it was 2016 or 17 maybe I can’t remember right now, but kind of mid year. I was like, you know what? I had tried to find a way to sell personalized invites on Amazon. And at the time there was no way to do that. And so at that time I said, okay if I can’t make what I’m doing work on Amazon, what could I make that will work on Amazon?
And so that’s when I had the idea to do the fill in style invitations and I thought for sure nobody would buy those because who wants to hand write in all their party details, but I thought I’m going to just try it. I’m going to stick some invites up on Amazon and I’m just going to see what happens. And so that’s what I did. I designed I think I started out with maybe ten invitation designs. I wrote the listings put them up there. They were horribly written. I mean everything was all wrong about it and I just kind of stuck them up there and said, okay, we’ll see what happens and it was about maybe two or three weeks. I had like my first sale I was like, oh my gosh, somebody actually bought this.
Steve: Were using Merchant fulfilled or FBA? for this..
Amanda: It was Merchant fulfilled. Yeah. It was not Merchant fulfilled to start and so I got that for sale. I was like, okay and now how do I do this? How am I going to print this? Then what are we going to do? And I actually printed it at Office Max.
Steve: Haha nice.
Amanda: So I like nice office fax what picked him up hand cut them out went to Michael’s but envelopes and like shipped off this, you know, half put together package to my very first customer and it was very clunky and it didn’t work and it started happening more and more and more. And so I was like, I’ve got to figure out a solution for this.
Steve: So where did you go from there?
Amanda: Yeah. So after they started selling more and more and more I ended up figuring out that Vistaprint would do white label shipping. And so that’s where I went next. So when somebody would purchase the invite I would go and place the order on Vistaprint and then it was shipped straight to the customer from Vistaprint with no Vistaprint labeling on it at all. So it looked like it was just coming from a printer and that was how is filling the orders there and it was about six months in that that was getting very tedious to do and I started thinking well and you know, when customers were buying these Merchants filled it was not quick.
So if you purchased an invite from me, I had a three to four-day handling time you were paying for shipping and all in all you were probably it was probably taking seven to 10 days to actually get it in your hands if not two weeks.
Steve: Okay, okay.
Amanda: plus shipping costs and I thought if people are willing to wait this long and they’re willing to pay this much and pay shipping. I wonder what would happen if they were in stock and they were available for Prime shipping. And so that’s when I decided I was going to buy my first batch of inventory and start with FBA. So I think that was January 2017 was my first shipment of invitations went into FBA and I was right, you know as soon as they were available for Prime they started selling like faster then I could have been imagined.
Steve: Do you know what the percentage increase was going?
Amanda: It was yeah, it was huge is probably like 10 times.
Steve: Oh, wow. Okay.
Amanda: Yeah, like we’re ten to one. I’ll sell ten Prime to one Merchant filled. It’s insane the difference in that. So we really cater to kind of the mom who really needs those invites really fast, maybe forgot that she needed invites or you know wants to throw a party quickly but doesn’t have time to wait or doesn’t want to print them, you know doesn’t want to have to go through the hassle of sending them to Walgreens and getting them printed or whatnot, you know Prime shipping just it changed everything.
Steve: So do you still you obviously don’t put all of your invitations upon Prime, right?
Amanda: No, actually when I design new ones, they always start Merchant filled. Okay, so they can pretty much you know, because I have ways to fill them if they’re ordered ahead of time and so while I’m waiting for the printer to print the first Batch of them, you know when they’re new I stick them up there for merchants filled and sometimes they sell I mean before they get in stock. I mean, it’s very common to sell some of the invites when they’re not in stock, you know, we run out of stock on some of them sometimes two and so I just switch it to Merchants filled and it always kind of excites me that somebody is willing to number one wait for them and then pay the extra shipping for them too. Then, I was like, oh this must be a really good design.
Steve: So how do you, what are your metrics for upgrading something to FBA and choosing to carry inventory for it?
Amanda: You know, I pretty much try all of it. So it’s very low cost for me to give an invitation to try so my pack cost is about two dollars and eighty cents for a pack of invites and so I’ll start with five packs because they’re digitally printed. My printer doesn’t have a minimum. Fourth because you know if I let’s say I start with 20 new designs, you know, if I buy five packs of each we’re looking at a hundred there so you can do digital printing with variations like that and it doesn’t have to be a hundred of the same design which is really nice. So it cost me maybe $25 to test a design on Prime and so I just do it because I figure every design is worth testing out.
Steve: Absolutely. So I’m just curious so you’re still doing everything printed in the U.S Right?
Amanda: Yeah, everything is printed the US and actually I use two different local printers. So their local to me only about a half hour away both of them.
Steve: I’m just curious for like your top top sellers that are just selling really well. Have you checked like how much cheaper would be to just have them printed overseas or it’s not worth the time?
Amanda: Yeah. I don’t know that it’s worth the time because the turnaround time on printing is so quick for me here in the It’s I can’t imagine that savings would be significant enough to deal with the waiting for them to arrive and inventory planning and whatnot. I mean, I don’t know how cheap it could be overseas, but I don’t think my cost is super high at two dollars and eighty cents a pack.
Steve: Okay, and just before this interview, I went on Amazon and I just look for you know invitations and that sort of thing. There’s a lot of competition out there. So I’m curious what you do to make your listing stand out.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, I think the number one thing that helps them Stand Out is just the design in general. They’re really cute. I mean, I’m not gonna lie. They’re super cute.
Steve: I’ve seen that they are very cute.
Amanda: Yeah, so I just have like a really different style and a different way of Designing and they’re bright and they’re colorful and I love bold colors. I love bold fonts and you know packing every inch of the invitation with some sort of fun design. So they stand out in that way all ready, and then you know, it’s if I had to guess that that probably is what makes them stand out the most because I do have a listing that I had professionally written and you know, maybe it helps but my price is higher than most and yet they still sell so, you know everything about my listings and the price point and everything says that I should not be selling that many and yet they are and so the only thing that I can think is, you know, the design is really what it comes down to if somebody’s comparing my unicorn invitation to somebody else’s unicorn invitation.
The higher price point lead some to believe that it’s higher quality, which it is when listing does say that it’s made in the United States and you know if they’re deciding which one fits their theme a little better and which one’s cuter, you know, mine’s going to win that way and now if you get the shop around Who’s like I want to do this part of cute, but as cheap as possible, they’re going to go to the competitor, but I’m not too concerned about that because people are still buying mine.
Steve: So, can you describe your launch process?
Amanda: Yeah, it’s so not fancy at all. I make new invites and you know, I get on a roll. So sometimes when I start designing I can design 20 to 50 new within a week’s time when I get going on it and I probably do that every other month or so where I’ll just like be bit by the creative bug and just start going. Once the invites are designed. I actually have somebody who makes all of my Amazon previews for me from templates that I’ve provided to her. And so I will send her the invite files and she’s got the templates and she’ll make all my previews. Once the previews are made. Then I have somebody who writes the listings for me also with a template that I’ve provided to her. She knows where to put in Keywords and right descriptive text and things like that and then she will write those descriptions and she will load those on Amazon for me.
Steve: And do you run ads?
Amanda: Yes, I do not usually right away. So usually I get them put up on Amazon and I don’t usually start the ad campaigns until they’re ready for Prime.
Steve: Okay, and then do jump start the review process in any way?
Amanda: I don’t.
Steve: Okay. So it really is just your designs and your listings. I’ve seen them. They actually do stand out. I think the colors are we make them pop too.
Steve: Which kind of brings me to my next question. I know there’s a huge counterfeit problem on Amazon. Have you had your designs knocked off at all?
Amanda: A little bit. So it’s happened a couple different ways when I was first starting I actually had somebody jump on my listing and that was it didn’t take long for that. I mean I was on Amazon like less than six months and somebody Had jumped on my listing and I found out about it because there was a one star review and the review said these look like a blurry pixelated copy of the actual image and I realized that they had bought it from another seller and that seller had basically just taken my image my preview image and printed the preview, which is not print quality at all. I mean, it can’t you can’t get a quality print out of that. And so that was one way that it happened and I was able to get them off my listing but Amazon would not remove that one star review, even though it wasn’t purchased through me.
So for that particular listing I ended up just closing it and I just started a new listing and that worked just fine so that I love when that one cells in particular because that was one that kind of like sat in my basement for a few months while I figured out this problem. That one makes me really happy. It’s going well. Now I’m brand registered. So people can’t hop on the listing which Is good, but what people can do and has happened is they can take the theme and the colors and they can make their own version of an invite.
Amanda: They can sell their own version of it and that that has happened with some of my better Sellers and I can’t stop that but I also am not too concerned about it because if I run the numbers on it and I look at how many they’re selling and the price they’re selling a math. And then how many I’m selling in the price. I’m selling math, we’re both making about the same amount of money, but I’m doing five times less the work and so I’m okay with that.
Steve: If you sell on Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge counsel because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecounsel.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.
Yeah, so it has happened and you just kind of Let It Go are these like identical copies or they are there slight differences?
Amanda: Yeah, they’re different. They’re not identical and you know, nobody can really do an identical copy that I could have taken down pretty easily for copyright infringement. So to be a new design really only have to change 20% of the original design and to have it be considered a brand-new design and that’s for all artwork. So, you know, you’re just not going to you’re not going to be able to stop that.
Steve: Okay, and are you making any off Amazon sales right now?
Amanda: My website has been kind of in the works for the past few years, but I do have a few sales coming through on that and the goal from now moving forward is to start really promoting that website getting an email list up and going and starting to use social media marketing.
Steve: and what platform did you ultimately choose to go with and how much does it cost you to run that website?
Amanda: Yeah. So I have a WordPress website with a woocommerce shopping cart, and there’s not a lot of monthly fees. I do have you know the hosting fee and the there’s a couple plugins that I use but I would say like as is as it’s running right now, maybe under $300 a year.
Steve: Okay. And then why did you choose to go with Woo?
Amanda: Woo, wondering why I did choose Woo? I think it was recommended by the designer that like over In the store or so when I was switching from Zen cart. I hired a web designer to do the design that you see up there now and I believe we talked about it and that was the recommendation that they recommended and that’s why I went with it at that point.
Steve: Okay. Now today it’s the way you’ve grown the business. Is it just by introducing more designs?
Amanda: Pretty much. Yeah, so that was working for us. And so we just kind of doubled down on what was working and my thought process kind of from the beginning was okay. Well if I’m making a thousand dollars a month and I have 200 designs if I have 400 designs make double If I have 800 designs I’d make double and so I have an endless list of ideas for birthday party themes.
Amanda: I can’t keep up with them. So I just keep creating new ones and we basically are having success by having such a wide variety of invitation designs and themes and then picking those top-selling invitations and adding matching items to I’m like thank you cards stickers and other items like that.
Steve: So with more skews the inventory problem becomes a little bit more complicated. What do you use to kind of manage your inventory?
Amanda: That would be my husband? Okay, so super great tool.
Steve: So I understand you got your husband to quit his job?
Speaker 2: I did get my husband to quit his job. And that was always my goal. That’s why I liked My Wife Quit Her Job so much because I was like, that’s gonna be me. My husband quit his job. Yeah. He quit at the end of July last year. So we’re at about the nine ten month mark here, and he actually last year was it had 2018 January was when I had asked him to start helping me with inventory. So the ordering process and deciding what to order and figuring out what was needed that was definitely not something I was really good at. I was doing it on a weekly basis, but we were running out of stuff all the time. And so when he came in and he started looking at it, he was like, okay, what we need to do is make sure that we keep these things in stock because then will you know, he called it saw to thing, you know ramp up sell out and then we got nothing.
Amanda: And ramp up and sell out and we got nothing and so he really made some great changes with the keeping inventory and stock and we started to see sales increased tons by having things staying in stock.
Steve: Imagine that.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. So that was a really good choice on my part to involve him and have him start doing that and he’s really analytical like that and he loves Excel sheets and data and all those things that I don’t love and so he’s the one who is in charge of deciding what needs to be ordered and how much of it to order and keeping things in stock and he does a pretty good job. I mean that was kind of our focus at Seller Summit was talking to people about Inventory management systems and what they’re using and looking into maybe some tools or maybe even like a 3pl.
Steve: I’m just curious. Was it a hard decision for your husband to quit?
Amanda: Yes and no, Yes and no. So you get two different stories, but I’ll tell you the truth. So..
Steve: Haha. Okay.
Amanda: You know the business had gotten to a point. We had talked about wanting him to quit for a long time. Our priority has always been time and time together and time as a family so the job he was working in he was not real thrilled with there was no room for growth or advancement for him. It was quite boring actually, but it was only three miles away from home and he could get in at 6:30 and leave at 3:30, which meant most of the time he was able to pick the kids up from school. He was always able to go to after school activities and because he was so close to home many days of the week we had lunch together or if the kids had something at school he could go to it.
So that was already a priority for us and he was staying in a job that he didn’t really love because he didn’t want to give that aspect up but then the business had gotten to a point where I would like wake up in the morning and I’m like, okay, I’ve already sold more than you make in a week. So may I start talking about this and he’s funny because you know, there’s that whole safety aspect of it all and so he would create a list for me like, okay. Well when we pay this off and maybe when we do this and we get a new car then I’ll quit my job and I would do his list and then he’d have a whole new list for me.
And so I think he was I’d like his fourth list. Let’s do these things and then I’ll quit my job that I think I might have had like a little bit of a snap out.
Steve: haha Okay.
Amanda: And I think I might have said something like you’re never going to quit and almost maybe dared him just a little maybe. And the next morning, he went into work and quit out of the blue. Like wait, what did you just do like what I thought this was you wanted? I’m like no. I just wanted to be on the same page. Everything worked out just fine. But yes, he kind of freaks me out and quit kind of out of the blue, but you know, we just kind of got the health insurance information, you know together and we made it all work.
Steve: Which actually isn’t that bad. I know a lot of people are afraid of the health insurance aspects.
Amanda: Yeah, the health insurance is bad in the cost of it. But you know, we just factored that into how much we needed to be making or the business need to be bringing in before we felt comfortable with it.
Amanda: So we’re covering the cost of it. I try not to think about how expensive it really is and you know put that on autopay and we’re good.
Steve: So let’s switch gears a little bit for the listeners out there who haven’t started their business yet. I wanted to talk about some of the more difficult parts about getting your business off its feet and many be any sort of advice that you could give.
Amanda: Sure. Yeah, I think getting in front of people is one of the hardest things and that was kind of the blessing of Amazon is that that platform is in front of so many people so the struggles that I was having before getting on Amazon, you know were being found being found on my own website. And that was before I found your course or found any kind of information on how to actually run your own e-commerce website and store and so Amazon was really kind of a blessing as a newbie to get out there put the product out and have some success selling it because it is in front of people and then I’m able to use the income from that to then build off Amazon. So, you know being found is for sure. One of the biggest struggles that I had and I’m sure it’s going to be as I’m now starting to drive traffic to my own website. So we’re just getting started with that. So we’ll see what happens.
Steve: Are you afraid of what happened to you on Etsy happening on Amazon?
Steve: Has anything bad happened to you yet. Have you had a listing suspended or anything like that?
Amanda: No, nothing. Nothing bad’s happened. There’s been a couple like little glitches, but it’s not really been like of any of my doing so somehow one of my stickers got labeled as like a jewelry product and so it was restricted and they couldn’t figure out what the problem was and then finally figured out it was in the wrong category or something and I don’t even know how it happened. So I mean, there’s been like little snafus but nothing like scary.
Amanda: But for sure it’s always in the back of my mind. Like I don’t I don’t want to be in a position where it could all be taken away again.
Steve: So can we talk a little bit about your off Amazon strategy? What’s in the works?
Amanda: Yeah. So the First thing was my website is going to kind of cater to a different kind of customer and that is kind of the more prepared mom. I guess you could say the one that is looking out months in advance for the party wants everything personalized doesn’t want to hand write in the invitation once the perfect invitation but they want the details all put on there. And so we have been working on creating like a customization aspect on the website where the invite is up there and the customer can type the details right onto the invite and then we get the print-ready file and we send it off to the printer and then they get them shipped right to them.
So that is just now being finished up. Our very first strategy is going to be building the email list. So I do have an email list from years ago. So we’re going to start sending out the emails again and really honing in on that list and making sure that people who want to get it are the ones that are getting it if they don’t want to receive it, you know, getting them off that list and just really kind of starting from scratch. I really feel like it is starting from scratch all over again.
Steve: What is your traffic strategy going to be?
Amanda: Yeah. I’m my strategy is going to be start going through every video in your class and working strategically through them to drive traffic to my website. So, you know, I think our focus is build the email list first. We are starting to post more on Facebook and really it’s just going to be a learning process. I mean, we are barely scratching the surface and we have barely just started this.
Steve: And in terms of just the print on demand like the logistics gets a little bit more complicated now, right because you’re sending out custom orders for everyone is that your husband’s domain or?
Amanda: Yeah. Well that the nice thing about that is that when the order is placed we will have the print ready file and then it’s simply uploading it to the printer system. And so that is something that somebody I have working for me is already trained how to do and so that will be somebody else’s job.
Steve: So does that mean you’re going to essentially fulfill those yourself? Right?
Amanda: Yeah all the orders on my website that are custom will be filled by us.
Amanda: We do have the plug-in for FBA installed on there where my Amazon stores up to my website. And so the FBA doors will be filled directly from Amazon for some of those ready to go items. But we plan on having a whole bunch of custom items offered on that website to custom stickers with the child’s name on them custom water bottle rappers. Again, same thing like happy birthday Emma or whoever the kid is you’ll be able to put their name right on the stickers the water bottle wrappers and the invitations and everything like that.
Steve: Yeah that makes a whole lot of sense. So is that where you see your business moving towards going forward the custom side?
Amanda: For sure like pie in the sky dream of mine is to be able to personalize every little piece of a birthday party to make it extra special. So, you know, ultimately down the road. I would love to even be able to possibly personalized like paper plates and napkins and cups. So we’ll see. I don’t know the possibilities of that. I don’t even know what equipment prints those things but that is my that is the big dream.
Steve: Why not?
Amanda: It’s super fun to have your name like on your plate just they could be the coolest.
Steve: No totally and I know on five minute pitch you talked about a party in a box.
Steve: How is that going and what are some of the challenges with that and first of all, what is it for the people?
Amanda: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So party in a box is kind of like one of those also Big Dreams that I had I had the idea for probably about five years ago, but I had no idea what to do with it. So I just kind of it went on the back burner and then about two years ago. I was like, okay, I’m going to make this happen and I ordered paper plates and cups and napkins and they sat in my basement for a year because I had no idea how to make it happen and then, you know, I was part of This book club and we happen to be talking about like those dreams that are beyond your means and those dreams that you really you want to make happen. But you really have no idea how to make them happen. I was like, oh, I got one of those, you know, it’s party in a box.
And so we talked about like asking the universe for provide the means to make that dream happen. And so I was like, okay, I’m gonna do this University gave me the stream now provide me the means to make it happen and I kid you not Steve. I did that two nights in a row and the third morning I woke up to you can win $50,000 for your business enter the five minute pitch
Steve: ha ha ha
Amanda: And I looked at that email and I went no no way. I’m not gonna do this. This is so far out of my comfort zone. I can’t even imagine doing this and I close that email and then there’s like this little tap on my shoulder and it was like, well, you did ask didn’t you I was like, oh no, I can’t believe this is what I gotta do. And so I felt like compelled like I had to enter this contest, right and so party in a box is basically, you know it my goal for it. Is that everything you need to throw a perfect Pinterest worthy party with coordinating details going to come in a box ready for you to go.
So it’s about 11 products right now invites decorations stickers a banner everything you need the paper products, plates, cups napkins, water bottle rappers, thank you cards in a coordinating box. So the Box actually matches the party theme to which then can double as a centerpiece or gift box and even inside we have tissue paper that kind of matches the theme which is really fun. And so doing the whole five minute pitch thing and going through all of it was exactly the Catalyst I needed to make that party in a box happen and I actually launched the first five boxes, it’s like four days before the five minute pitch finale.
Amanda: So it did happen and I did get the means to make the party in a box a reality. And so I don’t know if you saw me before the final but I was pretty much a hot mess over and.
Steve: we sat next to each other at lunch you seemed okay?
Amanda: Yeah, and I was like nerve wise I was totally okay, but when I was sitting there before we were going to do our final pitches and I’m like sitting there with this box and I’m thinking back to the fact that I had no idea how it’s going to make this happen. And here it is like in front of me. I was pretty overwhelmed. So I was having a little bit of a meltdown and just really really grateful that that is what came out of it. You know that I actually made it happen.
Steve: Yeah, and I saw the Box looks fantastic.
Amanda: It is it’s like better than I could have even imagined and making the boxes like step one right? Now, we gotta sell the Box because that’s all part of it too. But it was overwhelming to be there at in the finals, you know, make the final five and and have this product finished which is what I ultimately asked for right? Was you know, that’s all I wanted to give me the means to make this box reality and there it was and so like I went into the final just being like it doesn’t even matter what the outcome is at this point because I got exactly what I asked for, right?
Amanda: So I was just super excited to be there and super grateful to have made it that far and You know, there were so many other positive things that came out of the whole experience. You know, like my husband’s like are you nervous to be on Steve’s podcast? I’m like, no, it’s Steve. Like I’m totally excited because oh before you would have been super nervous about this.
Steve: ha ha ha
Amanda: It’s true. But I’ve grown so much and so much has changed just for me personally just having gone through that whole experience that I was just overwhelmed and like super grateful to even just be there. So it was a great experience overall and party in the box. It happened. There are definitely challenges to it. But we like I’m like this party in the box getting launched before we go. I don’t care what has to happen and I have to do I am launching this thing and so we actually hand cut the banners for all of the boxes that we want.
Steve: Oh, I did not know that. Okay.
Amanda: Yeah, because Banner the banner fulfillment or manufacturing is still one of the struggles and getting it to where I don’t have to buy 10 thousand banners of the same design so it’s hard and cost-wise, you know, they’re very expensive to produce. And so we printed them and cut them out ourselves and punch the holes in them and everything and they look pretty good. I mean, I’m not gonna lie they’re.. but obviously going forward, you know, we’re not going to be able to hand cut them all.
Amanda: But that’s what we did for the first, you know, I sent in 20 boxes. So that was definitely one of the pain points of the box. We have found a plate cup manufacturer for a really great price and lower minimum quantities, which is wonderful and most of the other items we can print our printer can print napkins is still a little tricky that is still like a high order quantity for us.
Amanda: But pretty much we’ve worked out the logistics of the boxes and I think when we first talked on five minute pitch, you know, I was talking about it costing about Nine or ten thousand dollars to start a design in box form and we’ve actually figured it out to where we can start them for about 2,500 to 3,000 dollars.
Steve: Nice, nice.
Amanda: So a lot has changed since that very first, you know pitch of the idea and whatnot. And so to me now, it seems much more doable.
Amanda: You know, I could start a new design for $3,000.
Steve: So Amanda, I want to end this interview with some quick fire questions that the audience is probably interested in how much money did you risk to start this business?
Amanda: Oh, none.
Steve: none. Awesome. How long did it take you to just get a product up and just start selling?
Amanda: Oh, well, I probably thought about it for two years before I tried it.
Steve: Well, how about once you actually sat down got started in and working on it?
Amanda: Yeah, I went away for a weekend and I was like, I’m figuring out Amazon this weekend. That’s what’s happening. And it really was not as complex as I had made it out in my mind. So once I had the design, you know getting the listings up maybe a couple hours figuring that out.
Steve: Okay, and then how much did you spend on marketing?
Amanda: None, when I first started I did not spend any money on marketing. It was probably five or six months in before I started doing PPC campaigns and pretty much I mean PPC experts close your ears. I just threw everything into an automatic campaign like everything and has let it just let it do its thing and my A cost was about 12 percent and I was like, all right. Well, hey, it’s not really costing me too much and I’m making money. So
Amanda: I just let it do its thing, you know back to your how much they invest like when I started it was nothing. My very first FBA order was like about $750.
Steve: Nice. Yeah. I mean, it just goes to show that you don’t actually need a whole lot of money to get started specially on Amazon.
Amanda: Yeah. Oh and I also locked out too because I applied to be on handmade Amazon before I went on to I guess what you’d call regular Amazon and because I got on handmade my seller my $40 a month seller fee or whatever was waived.
Steve: Oh my..
Amanda: Through, Yeah through 2018 or something like that. So I didn’t even have the $40 a month Amazon fee.
Steve: Do you have any advice to people who are just kind of on the fence about starting something?
Amanda: Yes, I would say first of all, you just got to start I think you know, one of the things that I’ve learned along the way is that I can like think things to death and you know, you you’re not going to have it perfect. When you first start something the way I do things now is nothing like how I did it when I first started and the only way you know, that is to actually start it and get going and my other advice would be to make sure that whatever you’re selling has some sort of meaning to you. It makes it a lot easier to keep going if there’s some sort of meaning or purpose behind it when things get rough because they will get rough things, you know, things will happen and there have been times that you know, I’m up late at night trying to get things done or you know, it’s stressful around here, but it all is worth it because I really do love what I’m selling and I love what I’m doing.
Steve: great advice Amanda where can people find your invitations and your website if they want to see what you, what you’re selling online.
Amanda: Yeah, my website is www.amandacreation.com. No S in there. I’m on Facebook Amanda Creation. I’m also on Instagram and Pinterest and you could also search Amanda Creation invitations on Amazon and you can find a whole bunch there too.
Steve: And you can also find Amanda on the 5 minute pitch. She I don’t know how many episodes you were in actually I want to say at least 4 right?
Amanda: Well, we did three pitches
Amanda: Then, you know, I was mentioned in a couple Facebook lives. So that was nice too, but three official pitches.
Steve: Yes, so you can actually get more detail about the numbers side of her business by actually checking out five minute pitch over at 5minutepitch.com. So Amanda, thanks a lot for coming the show. This interview was a long time coming and you delivered fantastic.
Amanda: Thank you.
Steve: Thanks for coming on.
Amanda: Thanks for having me.
Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, Amanda is one of those entrepreneurs that I knew would be successful. As soon as we met and her business is killing it right now. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode269.
And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.
I also want to thank Klaviyo. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.
Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com
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2 thoughts on “269: How My Student Makes 90K/Month Selling Party Supplies With Amanda Wittenborn”
Hey Steve — Amanda shouldn’t overlook Pinterest and Instagram! Great way to drive traffic — such great designs!
Thanks for another great interview!
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